by Safiyia Stanfley – DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson for DAWN
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Date: 31 August 2018
Note to Editors: Find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans. See photos here, here and here.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape is calling on the MEC of Social Development, Gift van Staden, to prioritize the provision of care to victims of gender-based violence and ensure that the funding of shelters is significantly increased.
This comes after an oversight inspection of the state-funded Kimberley Shelter, by myself, earlier this week.
While staff at the shelter are doing their best with what they have, it is very troubling to note that the shelter has a very limited bed capacity and can only accommodate five overnight clients at any given time. This is especially problematic over celebratory holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, when the shelter is often filled to capacity due to the link between higher levels of alcohol consumption and increased levels of violence. The limited bed capacity is also a challenge given that most victims are housed for at least two to three months, or until court proceedings are eventually concluded and it is safe for them to return to their homes.
The shelter is also understaffed and is not able to provide basic services, such as counselling or legal and financial advisory services to women who are trying to escape the cycle of abuse. This is most unfortunate given that the victims who are referred to the Kimberley Shelter, tend to be mostly unemployed women who are financially dependent on their partners.
The Northern Cape Department of Health recently indicated in its 3rd Quarterly report of 2017/2018, that the incidence of violent crimes perpetrated against vulnerable groups in society is significantly on the increase in the Northern Cape and that more and more violent deaths of women and children are reported in this province. They go so far as to state that through prevention programmes, communities will be capacitated to prevent injuries and death.
It is worrying that, despite so much talk about eradicating violence against women and children, the Social Development Department is doing so little for victims of abuse. In fact, while domestic violence in the province has increased, the bed capacity of shelters in Kimberley that receive funding from the state, has in fact decreased.
Support for the Kimberley Shelter, and other shelters, must be augmented. Otherwise campaigns against violence will be futile.
I will be embarking on a series of oversight inspections to shelters across the province in the upcoming weeks, to further assess the level of care for victims of violence.
Only change under a DA-led government, that understands the complex nature of abuse and realizes that intensive support is required to empower women to be able to break the chains of abuse, will ensure that we start to make real inroads in combatting gender-based violence.